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Old 02-07-2013, 01:48 PM   #1
Dan Richards
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Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

I'm serious about this, and I'm playing with some inquiry. Since the Bronze Age, the sword had been the height of martial technology. In the pre-war era Morihei Ueshiba appears very warlike and grimacing. Like he was going to tear you a new one. Contrast that to post-war aikido, after the atomic bomb, and there is a smiling older man running around with his arms raised towards the sky and declaring peace.

M. Ueshiba had several "conversion" experiences over the years, beginning in the 1920's. But it wasn't until WWI and his direct experience of another type of destructive power, the atomic bomb, that things appear to completely transform, and he makes a complete 180.

Quote:
"The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood. It is not a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek to compete and better one another are making a terrible mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst thing a human being can do. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent such slaughter -- it is the Art of Peace, the power of love."
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Old 02-07-2013, 02:36 PM   #2
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
I'm serious about this, and I'm playing with some inquiry. Since the Bronze Age, the sword had been the height of martial technology. In the pre-war era Morihei Ueshiba appears very warlike and grimacing. Like he was going to tear you a new one. Contrast that to post-war aikido, after the atomic bomb, and there is a smiling older man running around with his arms raised towards the sky and declaring peace.

M. Ueshiba had several "conversion" experiences over the years, beginning in the 1920's. But it wasn't until WWI and his direct experience of another type of destructive power, the atomic bomb, that things appear to completely transform, and he makes a complete 180.
What about:

Quote:
At that moment I was enlightened: the source of budo is God's love - the spirit of loving protection for all beings ...

Budo is not the felling of an opponent by force; nor is it a tool to lead the world to destruction with arms. True Budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in nature.
From 1925...

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-07-2013, 03:24 PM   #3
Dan Richards
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Yes, in 1925 he addressed his experience as "At that moment..." He had a peak experience - which is not all that uncommon. I've had several myself over the years. What is uncommon is his direct experience of the effects and after-effects of a man-made destructive martial power the level of which, until then, he could not have fathomed.

I grew up as a little kid in the 60's. The threat for us wasn't someone with a knife, or a sword, or a gun. It was from something that was going to cause a flash in the sky and instantly fry everything thing within that region of the country. Consequently, I and the others around my age grew up as pretty chilled out people.

Peace, on a larger scale, since WWII, was not been achieved by the sword, but by the atomic bomb.
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Old 02-07-2013, 03:47 PM   #4
Eric in Denver
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

This is tangential, but the following is an interesting article discussing evidence for whether Japan surrendured because of Nagaskai and Hiroshima or because the Soviets entered the war.

http://www.japanfocus.org/-Tsuyoshi-Hasegawa/2501
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:20 PM   #5
Chris Li
 
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Yes, in 1925 he addressed his experience as "At that moment..." He had a peak experience - which is not all that uncommon. I've had several myself over the years. What is uncommon is his direct experience of the effects and after-effects of a man-made destructive martial power the level of which, until then, he could not have fathomed.

I grew up as a little kid in the 60's. The threat for us wasn't someone with a knife, or a sword, or a gun. It was from something that was going to cause a flash in the sky and instantly fry everything thing within that region of the country. Consequently, I and the others around my age grew up as pretty chilled out people.

Peace, on a larger scale, since WWII, was not been achieved by the sword, but by the atomic bomb.
Well, there's been quite a lot or war since WWII, atomic bomb or not. Anyway, my point was that he talked quite a bit about peace before the war and the bomb - I think that's pretty hard to make the case for a 180 degree shift in his thinking after or as a result of Hiroshima/Nagasaki.

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-07-2013, 04:35 PM   #6
Brett Charvat
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Since the Bronze Age, the sword had been the height of martial technology.
--I'm not sure how you came to this conclusion. If we discount other minor martial technological developments since the Bronze Age such as gunpowder and explosives, perhaps. Or are you defining "martial" differently than I do?
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:49 PM   #7
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

I acknowledge that the sword is symbolic as the heart of budo, but if we are talking battlefield engagement, first the spear and then a long line of missile casters have been outperforming the sword for literally thousands of years.
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:07 PM   #8
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
I acknowledge that the sword is symbolic as the heart of budo, but if we are talking battlefield engagement, first the spear and then a long line of missile casters have been outperforming the sword for literally thousands of years.
400,00 year old fire hardened sticks (aka spears) are known.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:36 PM   #9
Dan Richards
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Chris, I agree there was a shift by degrees over time. So, I don't think the 180 came all at once. He was moving in that direction, but hadn't made a complete shift in polarity. It's like he'd been moving a dimmer switch, and there were incremental increases in the "mood" lighting. But it wasn't until the polarity completely reached 180 degrees from the "off/war" position to the "on/peace" position that the house lights really came on. It was at that point that he truly moved into "walking the talk."

We've got to keep in mind that Ueshiba was taught by, and came from, lineages of people who passed on the arts of hurting and killing people. It was in his psyche. And he didn't suddenly release all of that after his 1925 "experience." He started talking about it. But he didn't renounce violence and become a monk. He was still teaching aiki-jujutsu under the licenses from Takeda until the mid 30's.

I'd be interested in knowing from anyone who might have more specifics on the history: How long did Ueshiba openly take on challengers in the dojo?

Thanks for that link, Eric.

Quote:
Kido stated that while the peace party and the war party had previously been equally balanced in the scale, the atomic bomb helped to tip the balance in favor of the peace party.
Which even adds the idea here that wasn't just Ueshiba. I mean, the American-occupied Japan outlawed martial arts. After the war, all the do versions were formulated. Watered down versions closer to gymnastics courses all given at the Budokan. That's when Konishi, Kano, and others had to come up with and submit a systematic curriculum that was approved by the government. Karate-do was reformatted. The name "aikido" was suggested at that point. Ueshiba didn't come up with it.

AIkido reminds me a lot of the Spanish going into the Phillippines. (Initially the stick-armed Filipinos even managed to beat the sword-armed Spaniards.) Evenly the Spanish won, and took over the Phillippines. And the Spanish banned the practice and training of martial arts there. The Filipinos, though, keep up these "dances" they had, and wore costumes with openly concealed information. They - as well as many other cultures invaded by other countries - hide their arts in "dances."

Under K. Ueshiba, Aikido essentially grabbed the old model of the emperor hierarchy pyramid, and started building right back up. Placing the Ueshiba family at the top. Post-war practitioners were quickly graded to very high dan levels and later dispatched overseas with, in many cases, a decade's worth of experience or less. With little to no training on the real internal workings of the art. And they brought up students, and created big top-down pyramids. And top-down propaganda

The aikido most people see and train that looks like "dance" is, in many cases, just that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History...ation_of_Japan

Quote:
Japan had never been occupied by a foreign power, and the arrival of the Americans with strong ideas about transforming Japan into a peaceful democracy had a major long-term impact. Japan came under the firm direction of American General Douglas MacArthur, The main American objective was to turn Japan into a peaceful nation and to establish democratic self-government. The occupation transformed the Japanese government into an engine of production, wealth redistribution, and social reform. Political reforms included a freely elected Japanese Diet (legislature) and universal adult suffrage. The Occupation emphasized land reform so that tenant farmers became owners of their rice paddies, and stimulated the formation of powerful labor unions that gave workers a say in industrial democracy. The great zaibatsu business conglomerates were broken up, consumer culture was encouraged, education was radically reformed and democratized, and the Shinto-basis of emperor worship was ended. Historian John Dower says the "visible hand" of New Deal-inspired state leadership, while keeping a capitalist economy, was welcomed by a battered and humiliated Japanese society that was eager to find a peaceful route forward into prosperity.
Post-war Japan was controlled by the Americans. If Aikido is the Art of Peace, it would seem that the American's are as responsible as anyone for putting the "peace" in the equation. And actually the inner "art" - the chi/ki development part - comes more from China. The dan/kyu grades come from Go which is a Chinese game. Stanley Pranin, an American, has been not only the single-most person responsible for piecing together the once very sketchy, and often questionable, history of Aikido, has was also the catalyst for at least getting some of the severely-fracture "styles" and teachers together - if even just for a few days.

It's become obvious by the rise of people like Dan Harden (American), Mike Sigman (American), and Akuzawa Minoru (Chinese-trained Japanese) that there have been some major core pieces of the puzzle that have been missing from much of what has been passed off to the public as Aikido. One thing that people do in peacetime is share. We share experiences, and we share knowledge and information.

Maybe we could start hanging another picture in our dojos. One to remind us that technology and open communication and sharing are more responsible for peace, and that the emperor-hierarchy-protect-at-all-costs model is exactly what got Japan in such trouble as we began moving into a more open and peaceful world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Robert_Oppenheimer
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:11 PM   #10
Dan Richards
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Robert, I just noticed your signature. Thank you! Right there in plain sight is the admission by a major Aikikai Shihan that they've been going for quantity over quality all this time.

Quote:
"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu
So, NOW, we're going to get the quality? And who's going to supply that?

If you were wanting to truly explore the ins and outs of making the perfect steak, would you really go to McDonald's? The explosive microbrewery movement in the US didn't need to go to Budweiser.

My money's on a new generation of people who are willing to step out of the ranks and freely explore, examine, and share. The proof is in the pudding. Many of them are already in place and the movement is underway. People are starting to demand a deeper level of experience.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 02-07-2013 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:55 PM   #11
Dan Richards
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Just to note: Although my practice is based in Nishio Aikido, I started aikido in 1988 at NY Aikikai. Among my first teachers were Yamada, Sugano, Donovan, Harvey, Hal, Rick, Angel, Tina, Claire, and others there. This interview with Yamada even demonstrates that he's tired of the water. I find this quite encouraging.

http://www.aikido-yamada.eu/index.php/sensei/interview/
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:41 AM   #12
Chris Li
 
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
We've got to keep in mind that Ueshiba was taught by, and came from, lineages of people who passed on the arts of hurting and killing people. It was in his psyche. And he didn't suddenly release all of that after his 1925 "experience." He started talking about it. But he didn't renounce violence and become a monk. He was still teaching aiki-jujutsu under the licenses from Takeda until the mid 30's.
I wrote a little about it in this post, but Budo as a device for peaceful purposes is hardly a modern invention, it came along long before Ueshiba.

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Which even adds the idea here that wasn't just Ueshiba. I mean, the American-occupied Japan outlawed martial arts. After the war, all the do versions were formulated. Watered down versions closer to gymnastics courses all given at the Budokan. That's when Konishi, Kano, and others had to come up with and submit a systematic curriculum that was approved by the government. Karate-do was reformatted. The name "aikido" was suggested at that point. Ueshiba didn't come up with it.
There certainly was a general "peace craze" in Japan after the war, but a couple of points about the passage above:
  1. Martial arts were never outlawed in post-war Japan, that's a myth and a misconception. They were removed as part of the standard public school curriculum. Kisshomaru points this out in particular in "Aikido Ichiro".
  2. The government overseen systemization occurred pre-war with the Dai-Nihon Butokukai (around 1942 for Aikido), and that's when the name change happened, there really was none of that post-war. All the "do" versions came about pre-war, not post-war.

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-08-2013, 02:01 AM   #13
Dan Richards
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Thanks for your input, Chris. Some of the historical accuracy and timetables were exactly what I was looking for in the topic. It's much appreciated.
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:02 AM   #14
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Budo as a device for peaceful purposes is hardly a modern invention, it came along long before Ueshiba.
Yes.
As far as I understand it TSKSR is build upon this understanding of budō. And this is really an old school - koryū.

To me it is important to try to understand the meaning of "love" or "peace" in the historical, philosophical, linguistic context it was used by People like Iizasa or Ueshiba. And differentiate it from an understanding of "love, peace and happiness" like it was born in the late sixities in the US or here in Europe.

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
I'd be interested in knowing from anyone who might have more specifics on the history: How long did Ueshiba openly take on challengers in the dojo?
Until the End of the fifties, I was told.

And I read about the same time, somewhere in aikido journal. Someone hurt his shoulder so he couldn't practice budō any more. This expierence made Ueshiba stop accepting challenges.

When I read in Legacies of the sword, that an 8th dan aikidō challenged a pracitioner of KSSR and lost, I allways wonder whether this must have been during the sixities, when there where was a kind of connection?
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:33 AM   #15
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

And:

Regarding Ueshiba's political background and acitvities, I think the unconditional surrender of the tennō must have had deep impact on him.

But to be honest:
Regarding his understanding of love and peace I don't see a change like it is presumed here.
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:44 AM   #16
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

This "Budo is not the felling of an opponent by force; nor is it a tool to lead the world to destruction with arms. True Budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in nature" sounds like the Kokutai no Hongi on martial spirit.

BTW,

Quote:
...the Spanish going into the Phillippines. (Initially the stick-armed Filipinos even managed to beat the sword-armed Spaniards.) Evenly the Spanish won, and took over the Phillippines. And the Spanish banned the practice and training of martial arts there. The Filipinos, though, keep up these "dances" they had, and wore costumes with openly concealed information. They - as well as many other cultures invaded by other countries - hide their arts in "dances."
Typical 19th Century nationalist narrative.... aka bs.

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Old 02-08-2013, 05:49 AM   #17
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
And:

Regarding Ueshiba's political background and acitvities, I think the unconditional surrender of the tennō must have had deep impact on him.
Surely finding himself in the position of being arrested as war criminal had a deep impact on him.

But commies invaded Korea... and here we are.

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Old 02-08-2013, 08:01 AM   #18
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Not just the atom bombs but also firebombing of Tokyo ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Tokyo ) where the number of casualties on a single raid was "greater than Dresden, Hiroshima, or Nagasaki as single events."

To make this more concrete:
Quote:
"One American pilot wrote in his diary, "Suddenly, way off at 2 o'clock, I saw a glow on the horizon like the sun rising or maybe the moon. The whole city of Tokyo was below us stretching from wingtip to wingtip, ablaze in one enormous fire with yet more fountains of flame pouring down from the B-29s. The black smoke billowed up thousands of feet, causing powerful thermal currents that buffeted our plane severely, bringing with it the horrible smell of burning flesh.""

http://factsanddetails.com/Asian.php...7&subcatid=429
I find it incredible and unbelievable that the endgame of WWII in Japan didn't have a profound impact on both Ueshibas and their students at the time.

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Old 02-08-2013, 09:14 AM   #19
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
Not just the atom bombs but also firebombing of Tokyo ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Tokyo ) where the number of casualties on a single raid was "greater than Dresden, Hiroshima, or Nagasaki as single events."

To make this more concrete:

I find it incredible and unbelievable that the endgame of WWII in Japan didn't have a profound impact on both Ueshibas and their students at the time.
Not to minimize the impact on Kisshomaru (who was there the whole time), but Morihei left for Iwama two years before the firebombing really started, and lived out most of the war there in peace and quiet. He even avoided all the wartime and post-war food shortages and rationing.

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-08-2013, 10:07 AM   #20
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Not to minimize the impact on Kisshomaru (who was there the whole time), but Morihei left for Iwama two years before the firebombing really started, and lived out most of the war there in peace and quiet. He even avoided all the wartime and post-war food shortages and rationing.

Best,

Chris
Yes, that was a neat tenkan, but I assume that the horror stories from Tokyo travelled freely to Iwama and elsewhere.

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Old 02-08-2013, 11:25 AM   #21
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
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Yes, that was a neat tenkan, but I assume that the horror stories from Tokyo travelled freely to Iwama and elsewhere.
Maybe eventually. Maybe not. Countries in the process of losing a war often adopt draconian measures towards "defeatist" speech or actions. As for post-war, I think it's quite possible that stories about the firebombing didn't circulate, although they were free to do so (consider the attitude towards atomic bomb victims, for example). An ambivalent attitude towards the firebombings and their victims wouldn't surprise me at all -- similar things have happened in many other countries, after all.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:06 PM   #22
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Maybe eventually. Maybe not. Countries in the process of losing a war often adopt draconian measures towards "defeatist" speech or actions. As for post-war, I think it's quite possible that stories about the firebombing didn't circulate, although they were free to do so (consider the attitude towards atomic bomb victims, for example). An ambivalent attitude towards the firebombings and their victims wouldn't surprise me at all -- similar things have happened in many other countries, after all.
Kisshomaru talks about this a little bit in "Aikido Ichiro". They had a pretty good idea of what was really happening in the war due to their military connections.

You're right about the "defeatist" speech with regards to the general populace, though.

Best,

Chris

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Old 02-08-2013, 06:13 PM   #23
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Maybe eventually. Maybe not. Countries in the process of losing a war often adopt draconian measures towards "defeatist" speech or actions. As for post-war, I think it's quite possible that stories about the firebombing didn't circulate, although they were free to do so (consider the attitude towards atomic bomb victims, for example). An ambivalent attitude towards the firebombings and their victims wouldn't surprise me at all -- similar things have happened in many other countries, after all.
True, and such attitude would not be limited to one side. However given the slaughter and destruction in the city where he's son lives and where he lived for fifteen years, one needs more then ambivalent attitude to support the idea that the founder was not aware of what was going on. Whether he was keen to discuss this with others is a different question.

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Old 02-10-2013, 01:02 PM   #24
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
I'm serious about this, and I'm playing with some inquiry. Since the Bronze Age, the sword had been the height of martial technology. In the pre-war era Morihei Ueshiba appears very warlike and grimacing. Like he was going to tear you a new one. Contrast that to post-war aikido, after the atomic bomb, and there is a smiling older man running around with his arms raised towards the sky and declaring peace.

M. Ueshiba had several "conversion" experiences over the years, beginning in the 1920's. But it wasn't until WWI and his direct experience of another type of destructive power, the atomic bomb, that things appear to completely transform, and he makes a complete 180.
I think there have already been some great posts here; I have little to add in the way of supporting my own opinion, that the war and the public face of aikido were correlated, but probably not directly related. Nor do I believe that O Sensei modified his vision of budo from the older concepts. Likely, the softening of those edges where Doshu.

I think you could find a similar (and perhaps stronger) argument to support a claim that aikido is based upon the concept that came from the end of WWI and rebirthed following WWII - the conceptualization of a league of nations, inter-related economically and culturally in a such a manner as the overt declaration of war upon one nation would necessarily damage the league as a whole, thus deterring one member from considering such a harsh decision as to declare war upon another country. Of course, this is anecdotally constructed and loosely based upon previously successful social[ist] propaganda of that time.

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Old 02-12-2013, 10:49 AM   #25
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Re: Is modern Aikido based on the atomic bomb rather than the sword?

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Dan Richards wrote: View Post
And who's going to supply that?
Quality depends on the individual. It is incumbent on each and every one of us to do our upmost to strive for the highest quality as best we are able

Anyone not actively looking for a better way is moving backwards.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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